I have a 16" 2021 MacBook Pro, a cassette tape player, and a bunch of old cassette tapes with family audio recordings on them. I want to digitize them by connecting the tape player to my MBP's 1/8" audio port. I have tried getting a regular male-to-male headphone cable, and the MBP (using GarageBand) does not detect any input.

What kind of adapter do I need to make the MBP recognize audio input from an 1/8" audio cable? Does the headphone jack on this machine even support line in? If not, is there a USB-C adapter that will work?

  • It depends on your cassette deck, does it only have a 1/8-inch audio jack? Or is it something you would use with a receiver attached to your sound system? Perhaps you could add the make/model to your question. Also your "headphone cable" is it stereo or mono? You need to have the right kind of connector on each end. It should be do-able. Do you have a set of wired EarPods? If you plug them into the cassette deck do you get anything in either the left or right ear? Commented Nov 25, 2022 at 23:24
  • @SteveChambers - the cable is the easy bit. What makes it "not do-able" is the headset jack on the Mac. It's mono & cannot take line level. Already explained in the answer below.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 8:42
  • @Tetsujin, Odd I have done just this from time to time. The only issue is to start the volume on the cassette the lowest it will go and then ramp it up slowly until you get an acceptable level. With RCA jacks I found a simple "Y" adapter (2 RCA jacks to a 1/8th plug) works well and at an acceptable level on the Mac side. Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 14:58
  • @SteveChambers - …if you're willing to put up with all the noise of a cassette output turned right down, the change in EQ that the mismatched impedances will give you, no way to correct the azimuth & a mono signal… fine :P
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


Headset jacks are mic level, mono. Your cassette deck will be outputting consumer line-level, stereo. These are basically incompatible, on several levels.

You will need a line-level USB interface. To avoid the abysmal standards you will get on the really cheap stuff from Amazon/eBay, you would be best to shop on a 'musical instrument/audio' site, to get something vaguely useful. Your entry level for this is going to be maybe $£€ 20. You will still probably need cable adapters from your cassette's output to the interface's input.
See https://www.thomann.de/gb/usb_audio_interfaces.html?oa=pra&gk=STAIUS&cme=false&filter=true for some examples [well-known & respected pro audio 'box shifter' from the EU]

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